The Top 10 Greatest Vince McMahon Meltdowns
The best thing about WWE chairman Vince McMahon, as a character, is his ability to react to things.
McMahon is one of the greatest pro wrestling heels of the past 20 years, not only because he knows how to elicit boos, but also because he knows how to take an ass-kicking.
He flails. He screams. He makes the babyface look powerful. He's willing to play the fool for the sake of the business.
Here are the 10 best McMahon meltdowns—the times when the chairman turned red, bugged out his eyes and blew his cool in a sometimes funny, sometimes frightening manner. His character is a preening alpha male, and when his masculinity is challenged, the result is always entertaining.
10. His 'Product'
Event: Monday Night Raw
Date: April 4, 2006
This meltdown came a bit out of left field.
Vince was booking a handicap match that pitted himself and son Shane McMahon against Shawn Michaels and "God." Right in the middle of his announcement, he dropped what might be his most awkward, cringeworthy one-liner.
Shane reacted perfectly, by slowly looking over at his father, deadpan, as if the old man had completely lost his mind.
9. SHUT UP!
To the point. It's Heel Heat 101—the more you tell fans to be quiet, the louder they'll get. The more you ask them not to do something, the more they'll do the opposite.
McMahon is a master at this, and he delivers "Shut up" in a way that makes him sound like a buffoon who's compensating for his lack of control.
He usually says it to wrestlers, which always gets cheers or boos, depending on his target. But this particular clip shows him screaming at the fans to shut up, and they gave him exactly the reaction he was looking for.
Check out John Cena on the left, who is trying not to giggle the entire time.
8. The Nature Boy Bet on a Winner
Event: Monday Night Raw
Date: November 19, 2001
(Moment at 6:28)
In this clip, McMahon didn't need to say a single word—his expression said it all.
Upon learning that Ric Flair was his new business partner, he twisted his face into an expression that's been used and reused in a thousand GIFs. It gives the impression that his mind had snapped from the shock. All he could do was scratch his ear.
7. You're Under Arrest
Event: Monday Night Raw
Date: May 25, 1998
Part of what made the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. McMahon rivalry so compelling was the underlying subtext. Employee vs. boss. Blue collar vs. billionaire. South vs. north.
This segment was thrilling; the little guy used the system against the big guy and won. McMahon sold his comeuppance perfectly. Once he realized he was going to jail, he lost it.
He kicked, screamed and started crying as the segment came to a close.
6. Even Kevin Nash Was Impressed
Event: Royal Rumble
Date: January 30, 2005
The 2005 Royal Rumble ended in a botch, with Batista and John Cena hitting the floor at the same time. McMahon stormed to the ring in a froth and threw his jacket to the ground, ranting and raving. When he ran toward and slid into the ring, he tore both quads.
McMahon melted down so hard he severely injured himself. He had to mediate the Rumble's finish from the mat, sitting with his legs out and his hands on his hips.
5. Not a Real Gun
Event: Monday Night Raw
Date: October 19, 1998
(Moment at 4:00)
Here's a segment that could never happen today.
Steve Austin kidnapped McMahon, pointed a gun directly at his head and pulled the trigger. And yes, it was a toy gun, but it still wouldn't fly on television today, even if the show were MA.
McMahon is a notorious overactor, but in this rare instance, his tendency to ham it up served him well. He had to project the terror of a man who thought he was about to die, and there was no way he could overperform an emotion like that.
4. Open Him Up!
Date: April 5, 2001
(Moment at 4:25)
In hindsight, the Austin heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven was a big mistake. It was something that probably looked great on paper, but nobody wanted to boo Austin, and it wasn't fun to see Austin as McMahon's lapdog.
But the WWE writers tried to make it work, and their tactic was to make Austin a despicable roughneck who turned on all of his friends in the worst way possible. McMahon, in an attempt to garner heat for Austin, followed him over the edge.
In this segment, which is still a bit uncomfortable to watch, Austin cut Jim Ross open while McMahon stood on the top of the ramp and egged him on, shouting "OPEN HIM UP! OPEN HIM UP!"
It's always a bit alarming when McMahon goes animalistic and starts growling rather than talking. This is a good example of that.
3. The 'Kiss My Ass Club' Closes
Date: December 6, 2001
(Moment at 10:48)
What must it be like to play an evil boss on television and then talk to stockholders and employees off the air with a straight face? This Kiss My Ass Club bit blurred the line between kayfabe and real.
After the Invasion angle, McMahon started the Kiss My Ass Club as a way to allow Alliance wrestlers to join WWE as a sign of contrition and loyalty. But eventually, McMahon got his comeuppance, and it came when The Rock earned the right to have McMahon kiss his ass.
This became a 15-minute segment of a two-hour show in which The Rock slowly and hilariously broke McMahon's psyche before parading out Rikishi and subsequently shoving McMahon's face into Rikishi's crack.
McMahon's facial expressions were golden in the lead-up to final moment. But nothing compared to his reaction after the Rikishi stinkface, when he was red in the face, crying and gasping for air.
2. YOU'RE… FAAHHRED!
President Donald Trump may be more closely identified with "You're fired!" thanks to The Apprentice, but the phrase has been a meme among wrestling fans for far longer thanks to Vince McMahon.
McMahon's heel persona is the Boss from Hell, and appropriately, his delivery of the phrase has gotten more and more demonic over the years. It's as though he keeps trying to top his previous efforts.
His eyes bug out. His face goes red. His voice goes gravelly, like he's decided to take up death metal late in life. He looks out of control.
A lot of the impact is dependent on the person receiving the firing. If he or she looks particularly pathetic or weak, it makes McMahon seem even more unhinged by comparison. It's also become a McMahon running joke.
He isn't on television regularly anymore, but Stephanie still delivers the catchphrase, just like her father did.
1. A Lethal Dose of Poison
Date: January 24, 2002
Here is the best McMahon meltdown in history: his dramatic reveal of the NWO.
In January 2002, Ric Flair had become, through a series of convoluted plot machinations, the co-owner of WWE. McMahon was having none of it. He had just spent months battling son Shane and daughter Stephanie for company ownership during the Invasion angle.
He didn't want to now battle the Nature Boy.
And so, McMahon invoked the nuclear option—if he couldn't run WWE by himself, no one could. He brought in the New World Order—Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash—to "kill" WWE in the same way it "killed" WCW. It was meta as hell, and it did the difficult job of melding the promotions.
The only problem was the fans, who wanted to cheer Hulk Hogan, and nothing that WWE booked—Hogan hit The Rock's ambulance with a truck—was going to change that.
Still, McMahon's promo stands as a testament to what could have been. He shot this as a series of backstage vignettes, which were interspersed throughout that evening's SmackDown, and he became more and more unraveled as the evening progressed. It was overacting at its finest.
By the last promo, which closed the show, McMahon was in full-on monster mode, contorting his face and reducing his voice to a low, animal-like bark. The final reveal, that McMahon was actually talking to a mirror the entire time, made him seem even wilder.